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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading the analysis of this paper regarding this late masterpiece and found the sample from the score here:

Line Font Pattern Monochrome Parallel


I assume that this is a permutation-based motif which is running through the whole piece?

The original paper is at: http://www.cnvill.net/mfsani2.htm

I couldn't make heads or tails of about 50% of it. So wondering if anyone can summarize this in layman's terms for me.
 

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I'm no music theorist but from a quick listen to the piece and reading the paper I think a good summation is these 2 quotes:

" Working with the minor second allowed Feldman to construct a sound-world which focussed the attention on the shape of chords, on their density, and on the spacing of tones therein, rather than on their harmonic functionality"

"Truly enough, the chords of Ex.3 have an inner tension and an almost cadential feel. Yet after a few reiterations, we realise there is no resolution of discords, no cadence, and ultimately no directionality. During these repetitions time stretches to a different level, and we realise that the music has no past or future, but only a present, which consists of the particular permutation being played at a particular point in time. As Feldman explained, the permutations are "... a conscious attempt at "formalizing" a disorientation of memory."[5] "

A nice piece of music for sure :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm no music theorist but from a quick listen to the piece and reading the paper I think a good summation is these 2 quotes:

" Working with the minor second allowed Feldman to construct a sound-world which focussed the attention on the shape of chords, on their density, and on the spacing of tones therein, rather than on their harmonic functionality"

"Truly enough, the chords of Ex.3 have an inner tension and an almost cadential feel. Yet after a few reiterations, we realise there is no resolution of discords, no cadence, and ultimately no directionality. During these repetitions time stretches to a different level, and we realise that the music has no past or future, but only a present, which consists of the particular permutation being played at a particular point in time. As Feldman explained, the permutations are "... a conscious attempt at "formalizing" a disorientation of memory."[5] "

A nice piece of music for sure :)
I appreciate your help here. As a music theory layman, I notice that Feldman pieces tend to have no entrance or exit points. So theoretically you can begin to listen to Feldman at any point in history or leave the piece as you wish. It's like a sound sculpture in that fashion.

The question is how does Feldman determine all of these permutations or are all of these random accordingly?
 
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I did a quick experiment and sped the piece up by 4x and the repetitions seem to be random, which would make sense in that if there was any discernible pattern it would ruin the effect he is trying to achieve.
 

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I appreciate your help here. As a music theory layman, I notice that Feldman pieces tend to have no entrance or exit points. So theoretically you can begin to listen to Feldman at any point in history or leave the piece as you wish. It's like a sound sculpture in that fashion.

The question is how does Feldman determine all of these permutations or are all of these random accordingly?
In my opinion, I think Feldman works with sonority, on a more-or-less intuitive level.

There are sections of the Joan LaBarbara voice piece which are very mid-rangy and dark, distorted.

In "Rothko Chapel" and "Music for Stephan Wolpe" he uses a vibraphone, which is a very thick, lower-midrange sound, and the clusters are very dark and distorted, and abound with "interference" patterns and "waves" like piano tuners use to tune.

I think his goal is "coloristic," like painters (Rothko) and he wants to use sound "as sound" for its color and vibration. I don't think he is that interested in any kind of pitch "system" or theoretical result.

Yet, his music uses "devices" which lead the ear and brain to "expect" things, and he often dashes those expectations, or never fullfills them...they are "bait."

 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
millionrainbows, you are definitely right here... in fact, a lot of people classify Feldman as being minimalist but it's not the same type of minimalism that Glass or Reich is trying to achieve here. What makes Feldman steps ahead is the coloration and variety of instruments which are employed here in fact. "Rothko Chapel" is a great example of how much subtle variation that Feldman employs to achieve micro-scale effects with each instrument. Same with "For Philip Guston" too.
 
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Feldman is a very interesting character, and his books are worth getting. Also, I noticed a conversation with Cage on Youtube, very interesting. Cage seems to share aspects of the aesthetic with Feldman, but wants Feldman to "cheer up" a little bit, while Feldman seems intent on being in a darker mood. I see Feldman as kind of a "Schopenhauer" buddhist, i.e., a Buddhist with none of the cheer. Like Rothko, kind of an existentialist.

 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am trying to get books on Feldman but they are rather expensive and rare. I feel ill prepared for my second half of my presentation of him for my SLC music society in two books. Actually, the online resources on his works have proven to be invaluable.

Also a full month of Feldman has been tough going... because of the spiritual immensity of his works... I've been trying to do like 8-10 hours of Feldman listening per day and it's a hard task to do anything scholarly while trying to get a purview on his works.

So far the two books I found at the U of U music library have been these:

Title: Morton Feldman says : selected interviews and lectures 1964-1987
Available at Marriott Library LVL 1: General Collection (ML410.F2957 A5 2006 )
Creator: Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987.
Villars, Chris.
Subjects: Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987 -- Interviews; Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987 -- Friends and associates; Composers -- United States -- Interviews
Description: Introduction / Chris Villars -- An interview with Morton Feldman, August 1964 / Robert Ashley -- Feldman explains himself, April-May 1966 / Peter Dickinson -- An interview with Morton Feldman, May 1966 / Jolyon Laycock and David Charlton -- International Times interview, November 1966 / Alan Beckett -- Remembrance, 1967-9 / Tom Johnson -- Morton Feldman : waiting, May 1971 / Martine Cadieu -- The brink of silence, June 1972 / Richard Bernas and Adrian Jack -- Morton Feldman talks to Paul Griffiths, August 1972 -- Conversation between Morton Feldman and Walter Zimmermann, November 1975 -- Studio International interview, May 1976 / Fred Orton and Gavin Bryars -- Beckett as librettist, January 1977 / Howard Skempton -- Pie-slicing and small moves, autumn 1977 / Stuart Morgan -- Soundpieces interview, August 1980 / Cole Gagne and Tracy Caras -- Conversation about Stefan Wolpe, November 1980 / Austin Clarkson -- H.C.E. (Here Comes Everybody) : Morton Feldman in conversation with Peter Gena, January 1982 -- Toronto lecture, April 1982 / Linda Catlin Smith -- An interview with Morton Feldman, April 1983 / Jan Williams -- Johannesburg lecture 1 : Current trends in America, August 1983 / Rüdiger Meyer -- Johannesburg lecture 2: Feldman on Feldman, August 1983 / Rüdiger Meyer -- Morton Feldman in conversation with Thomas Moore, November 1983 -- Morton Feldman : conversation without Cage, July 1984 / Michael Whiticker -- Darmstadt lecture, July 1984 / Hanfried Blume and Ken Muller -- Conversation with Morton Feldman, July 1984 / Kevin Volans -- Captain Cook's first voyage, March 1987 / Richard Wood Massi -- The note man on the word man, March 1987 / Everett C. Frost -- A Feldman chronology / Sebastian Claren.
Related Titles: Series: Hyphen new series.
Publisher: London : Hyphen Press
Creation Date: 2006
Format: 303 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm..
Language: English
Identifier: ISBN0907259316 (pbk.)
Source: UUU ALMA

and

Title: Give my regards to Eighth Street : collected writings of Morton Feldman
Available at Marriott Library LVL 1: General Collection (ML410.F2957 A5 2006 )
Creator: Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987.
Friedman, B. H. (Bernard Harper), 1926-2011.
Subjects: Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987; Music -- 20th century -- History and criticism; Art and music
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Exact Change
Creation Date: 2000
Format: xxx, 222 pages : illustrations, music ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Identifier: ISBN1878972316
Source: UUU ALMA
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Feldman is a very interesting character, and his books are worth getting. Also, I noticed a conversation with Cage on Youtube, very interesting. Cage seems to share aspects of the aesthetic with Feldman, but wants Feldman to "cheer up" a little bit, while Feldman seems intent on being in a darker mood. I see Feldman as kind of a "Schopenhauer" buddhist, i.e., a Buddhist with none of the cheer. Like Rothko, kind of an existentialist.

Another tip by the way... if you are into visual arts like I am, then it's relatively easy to listen to Morton Feldman if you realize that it's all sounds sculptures :)... for me that's the easiest metaphor to get into.

If you approach listening to Feldman like you are trying to attack a Beethoven symphony then less headway is being made.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tomorrow I plan to make a trip up to the Marriott Library at the U of U campus to inspect some Morton Feldman books and also figure out some scholarly articles. I will report back whatever I find during my travails there. Plus it's an excuse to listen to the String Quartet No. 2 again while I'm there too. Quiet time.
 
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The Feldman Edition on Mode is very good. I especially like these two:

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Indeed, millionrainbrows my goal to collect all of the Mode Records releases for Morton Feldman off iTunes. I got quite a few so far.

And my explorations of him will continue into the year very much so. My goal is to listen to at least one Morton Feldman album per month after March. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have begun to realize that late Feldman works, as radical as they may seem, are fundamentally conservative in nature and they are very much tied into his interest in rugs... patterns is the key.

Interestingly enough, patterns was Webern's main concern all through his career. Feldman could be on a superficial reading like a slowed-down Webern in parts.

 
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